• Naked Proverbs

Choosing Between Your Wife and Your Mother

In Episode 002 of the Naked Proverbs Podcast Rich and Nik Scott discuss their experiences with their in-laws.

Nik: Welcome back to the Naked Proverbs podcast where we unclothe the truth about black love, family and marriage? My name is Nik Scott. I'm one of your hosts. And I'm here with my husband…

Rich: What's going on? It's your boy Rich. And today we're gonna talk about the in-laws. That's right. Those people you can't get rid of, but you got kind of wrapped in a package when you got married.

Nik: Yes. That was the people we’re gonna talk about today. Right at the beginning. We always want to let our listeners to know that we are not licensed therapists or counselors. We are experts at this. We've got more than at 10,000 hours, trust and believe, but we are not licensed or professional therapists and counselors.

We just have a lot of experience in this thing and a lot of advice that we want to give. Now, if you haven't already, make sure that you subscribe to Naked Proverbs on whatever podcasting platform you listen to your podcasts on. And if you like what you hear, show us some love and support by becoming a patron.

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Rich: Before we get into talking about all those people that became a part of your life when you said “I do” you know the mother-in-law, the father in law, the cousin in law, the sister-in-law, the brother-in-law, the uncle in law, the grandpa in law...

Before we talk about all that we want to take a moment and say thank you to all of our listeners that chose to tune in last week and listen to the Naked Proverbs. We really appreciate your support.

Nik: Yes. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your comments. Thank you for your feedback. We have heard and listen to every single one of those comments and every piece of feedback that you've given us, because this is going to be a community effort.

It's going to take a village to make naked Proverbs, the big family that we're aspiring it for it to be.

Rich: Speaking to family. Let's talk about family structure.

Nik: Okay. We're the Scott's…

Rich: That's right. There's you. There's me. Then we got a couple kids.

Nik: We got a couple of kids. We have two girls. We are parents of two teenage girls.

Rich: That's an adventure.

Nik: It's an adventure is a very nice way to put it. Um, any of you all that have teenagers out there? It is my opinion and my opinion only that teenagers are really the worst humans on the planet.

Rich: They're like toddlers only. They're bigger.

Nik: They're exactly like toddlers.

Rich: Think they know everything. They want to do everything. They don't think they need you, but they really do.

Nik: They really do. But there is one thing that has been very beautiful about watching our daughters grow into young women, and that is literally seeing them become the young women that they have been called to be. Um, they have their own opinion, they have their own ideas.

And I actually think that's a really good thing, even though at this stage it is kinda challenging as a mom to really get in where I fit in. Do I even fit in anymore?

Rich: Probably not.

Nik: I don't think so.

Rich: But you know what? I think that's kind of good because they're like birds and we're trying to push them out and see if they can fly.

And if they were perfect, great, lovable little beings, we probably wouldn't want to push them.

Nik: You're right. You're right. It's hard because as a parent, you get the gift of these beautiful children, right? And your entire job for 18 to 22 years or however long it takes, is to train them to leave you.

Rich: If you didn't know. Not only do we have two daughters. We have two fur babies and I don't want them to leave because you know what? Honestly, I like them more than I like my kids right now.

Nik: I agree with that one. We have two dogs, a big dog and a little dog, and they right now are what I would consider our favorite children.

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Rich: You know reality is my first, uh, experience with in-laws was growing up and my uncle. I remember my uncle got married. And the woman that he married, she had children. And my grandmother, she said, “I don't believe in-laws. I just believe in family.” And that was my first experience with in-laws because my grandmother brought these people in.

Uh, this lady, her children, everybody in it was one big family. She never had, uh, my uncles wives call her mother-in-law. She was just, mom. Uh, so she kind of laid the foundation for what I expected when it came to in-laws. And reality is society lays the foundation as well.

Nik: Yeah, they do. And the societal expectation is that all in laws are terrible and all they want to do is just wreck your marriage.

And I agree that in-laws can make or break a marriage, but that's only if the married couple. Allows them that opportunity in that space to make or break the marriage.

Rich: We all come into a marriage with expectations or ideas of how something should go. Uh, and I think that a lot of times we have a lot of conversation around different aspects of our marriage.

But one area that I don't think people really talk about a lot is the impact in-laws can have on their marriage.

Nik: Yeah, I think so. For me, my experience for in-laws has been interesting. Um, I don't know how you're able to recall your very first experience with in-laws, I don't even know what that looks like because on my maternal side of my family, shoot almost both sides of my family, everybody seems to be divorced or married and remarried, so I don't really have that kind of experience with in-laws. I thought that I was marrying you and that was it. Of course, there were those stories about, you know, the mothers of sons and I don't think I really believed it until we got married because you are the first born son and every parent and every mother has these ideas and expectations about what they want for their children. And I just, I just don't think I was what my in-laws wanted for you initially.

Rich: You know? I don't know. I know that initially, uh, I was blind. To a lot that was going on or conversations that were being had.

Uh, and I thought everything was hunky dory. Is that even a word?

Nik: It is.

Rich: All right. Well, I thought everything was hunky dory, right? Uh, I was just living my best life. And you are living a good life when it came to in-laws. Right. And I will never forget, I was actually in Iraq at the time, and I called home.

And all hell broke loose. And you kind of shared with me some things that have been said to you from my mother. Uh, and I was like, Whoa. Not my mama. Like you got all mixed up with somebody else and you know, I actually had to take a step back because it kind of goes back to those things…those 18, uh, topics we talked about last week, and I had to actually listen to what my wife was saying and.

So, she kind of shared some things, you know, that it happened. And, uh, different conversations that had occurred. And I took a moment, you know…I mean, to be honest now, men understand—I was in Iraq, there was a whole ocean in between me, my mama, and my wife. So, when I took this risk there was no way anybody could really do anything to me.

I was in Iraq, right? I was far from the United States of America. So ultimately, uh, I reached out to my mom and I kind of had this conversation. It was a heart to heart, you know, and was like, this is my wife. Uh, this is the woman that I chose to marry. She's my world. And you know, you’re my mom, you know, I mean, I love my mom.

That's my first love. And, uh, you know, she heard me, and I think a big piece of it was, remember last episode I mentioned I'm a preacher's kid, right? So, I've read the Bible a few billion times. Uh, and one verse that just came to mind was, you know, uh that we as men are supposed to leave our families, our parents, and cleave to our wives.

And I kinda explained that to my mom like look, you know what, I appreciate everything you've done in raising me, but you have to trust that I'm making a good decision. And this is my wife at this point.

So, you know, for me, I really had to just have that, uh quote unquote, come to Jesus with my mother. And I would say that that's a very important piece for men and their moms. Because moms can be overbearing. They can, uh, you know, want to be more involved in your adult life, in your marriage.

Nik: I don't think that you were blind to what was going on between me and your mother.

I never said anything to you about any of the conversations or confrontations that happened between me and your mother because I never wanted you to have to choose between me and your mom. I, unlike my husband, don't have that really grounded structure in the bible or church. So, I didn't know anything about leaving and cleaving.

All I knew is what people in the world said about how mothers are about their sons and the relationship between the mother and the son. I don't have any sons. I'm not a son, so I don't even know what that's like. But what I did know is that I never wanted you to have to choose between me and your mom.

I mean, what kind of choice is that? Right? Like who would want anybody to make that decision. And I didn't want to put that burden on you, but that particular time in Iraq, and you literally did say, not my mama. And I said, yes, your mama. This is what she said. This is what she did. And it really hurt me to even have to bring all those years, cause it was years by the time, uh, we had this conversation to bring all of those years of hurt. For me, it was very hurtful. Um, cause I've always thought I was pretty dope. Uh, you know, I wasn't as dope as I am now, but I always thought pretty highly of myself. But to have someone that was so important to you not value me in the way that I felt like they should value me was very hurtful for me.

So, it was an interesting situation because let's be clear, I never thought. You would choose me over your mom. And so for me, I think that was a transformational and a very pivotal point in our marriage and our relationship, because I knew the type of respect that you have for your mother that you've had for your mother, that you have for your mother now.

And I know how hard of a conversation that must've been for you.

Rich: I had a whole ocean in between us, so it was really easy. Is easier than you may think. But you know, I think that's a key point though, is, uh, in a marriage you have to remember that you have to put your relationship first, that if you don't put your spousal relationship before all these in-law relationships you probably won't have a very long marriage because it's already hard enough in a marriage when you're bringing two separate people together to create an environment that produces growth.

Just because you're two different people, two different upbringings, two different lives, two different everything. So. When you add in, and we keep talking about mother-in-law's, but the truth is, father-in-law's sister-in-law's, brother-in-law's, you know, good old grandma, uh, any of those, when you bring those additional people into your marriage it can create a lot of havoc if you don't have boundaries that have been set. And I think that's something that really, when I talk about that conversation I had with my mom, uh, that was really the beginning. Even though this was years later, years into our marriage, that I really began to try to set some boundaries for what it was going to look like for my family and my wife and myself and my mother and my father.

And the big piece of that was understanding that. These are your parents. You do this in a respectful manner. I didn't just go off the deep end. I mean, that's my mom. You know, she brought me into this world and she'll still take, she will still take me out. So, I understood that.

And, uh, she raised me to be a respectful person. So that conversation, you know, it was very respectful. Uh, because. It wasn't about severing a relationship with her to deepen a relationship with you. It was about making sure that these relationships were growing the way that they should grow, and that there was mutual respect for you as my wife from her.

And you know, now I look back and I mean, my mom was probably your number one fan and she loves you think that that's a big piece though, is understanding that you have to set boundaries. And something that I probably did early on in my marriage and didn't even realize the damage I was doing was if we had an argument or if we had a disagreement or, you know, we just weren't on the same page, well, who do I call...

Nik: Your mama.

Rich: I called my mom, right? So, hey mama, how you doing? Yeah, this you boy Rich. And uh, you know, so we talking and yeah. You know, Nik burnt the chicken.

Nik: I never burnt no chicken.

Rich: That is true. But you have burned up the kitchen.

Hey, we get a new kitchen, so whatever. But uh, you know, so whatever it was, you know, she was talking to me crazy or she didn't want to do what I will or whatever the issue was. And oftentimes in marriage, that's what we do. We take those negative moments and we share with our in-laws, whether that be your sister-in-law, your brother-in-law, your mother-in-law, maybe even your father in-law.

I think they kind of get over in the in-law department.

Nik: My dad is cool. I mean, he like literally the definition of cool.

Yeah, that is my dad. And I do think that there is something to be said about mothers and sons versus fathers and daughters, because in my dad's mind, I could almost guarantee when you asked him for my hand in marriage, he was probably like, yes, because now I'm not his responsibility. In fact, I remember a conversation.

With my dad years ago and he had bought…so I have a sister and she's younger than me, and at the time she wasn't married and my father had bought my sister one of those Sonicare toothbrushes when they first come out and she was telling me all about this fancy, expensive toothbrush that dad had bought her and I called my dad.

And I was like. Uh, so you make it rain over all Sonicare over at my sister's house with toothbrushes. Where's my toothbrush? And my dad told me, he said, you have a husband. I was like, just because I'm married doesn't mean that I don't need my dad. But I think it's just something different about a father letting go of his daughter versus a mother letting go of her son.

Rich: And I would even question though, not just mothers letting go of their son, a mother letting go, even her daughter, because at the end of the day, I think the difference is mothers bear their children. Fathers we take a part. But, uh, it's the fun part. We're not carrying around this human being that's literally grown inside of us.

So, fathers are connected differently to their children. They're definitely needed. But I think that it's just a different relationship. Even in our own children. I look at our relationship and it's very different. You know, I'm daddy that can do no wrong, and will always provide whatever they need

Then there's you, you know, their best friend almost some days, but back to what we're actually talking about in-laws, because, I mean, that's a whole nother conversation the kids. Right? But, uh, you know, I think that when you share those darkest times, those dark moments with your in-laws but then you never actually come back around and say, hey, we worked it out.

Nik: Not with your in-laws, with your parents, right?

Rich: Yes, yes. Okay, so let me rephrase that. So what I'm saying is if I'm going to my mom and I'm only bringing in the drama that's going on in our marriage, but I'm never bringing the highlights or even resolving the drama that I brought to her about you, then she's only getting one side and it’s painting a very different picture than what is reality. Reality is there are more high moments than low moments, but if all we ever talk about are the low moments then she's going to start to look at you a little bit differently. And I think a lot of times that's what happens in marriages, whether it be, you know, you talking to your sister or your dad or whoever, uh, you know, in the past, because I think once we identified this it's something that I know I've definitely tried to work on it and get better at and understand that you do need someone to talk to sometimes. They may not be your spouse, but you need to make sure that whoever you're talking to is someone that can provide wise counsel and someone that understands.

There's always two sides to every story. And the side that I'm giving, it's not always the best or the right.

Nik: So, there's also the flip side to having in-laws, but my experience has been interesting, like I said, in our marriage and in hour journey, but there are couples out there that have no in-law drama.

And I appreciate you talking about your grandmother because she really, truly, and honestly has never made me feel like someone who was married into the family. And as a matter of fact, if anything ever happened between us, I already know that she's always going to be there for me as a true family member.

And I think that there are those really positive experiences where like my mother and my grandfather, people believe that he's the son and the grandson, and I'm the in-law. Like that's how close of a relationship that my husband has with my mother and my grandfather. And I'm like, wait a minute: Hi. He's the one married and I am the daughter and the granddaughter.

Rich: And I think that's an important piece, is understanding that those societal views, when you think of movies that are out there, when you think of, if you just Google the in-laws right now, you're going to get a bunch of negative stuff, right?

How do you work with your in-laws? How do you live with your in-laws, but reality is, that's not always reality. You know, for me, from day one, you know, when I called dad, he basically asked me a couple of questions when I asked you your hand in marriage, you know, and I was so nervous. Oh my God, I was so scared.

And then over the years we didn't talk a lot. But we've got to the point where, you know, we'll text every now and then check in, see how each other is doing. He'll call me out of the blue and see how I'm doing. And I'm not talking birthdays and holidays. I mean, just randomly, Hey, how are you doing son? Everything okay? And that has built our relationship.

I'm getting ready to go on vacation with my in-laws and you know what? I'm excited about it. I texted him the other day, I can't wait to see you, dad. It's going to be a good time. So, for me, I don't have this negative story about the in-laws, my mother-in-law, amazing woman, man, I can't put it into words how great she was to me in every aspect of the word.

So, for me, I understand that it can be a positive thing, and if it's not a positive thing, I really do suggest that you figure out how to turn the corner. How do you turn that page? How do you begin to have a positive relationship? Maybe you know that you're a sister-in-law likes to cook. Maybe you can go take her on a date and the two of you go on a cooking date, right?

You know, uh, maybe you know that your father all likes to fish or likes to be outdoors.

Maybe you can take them and do something that's in an environment where they're comfortable and get to know them, get to really know who they are, what makes them smile, what makes them tick.

Nik: I would agree. And I would also like to add to that um, it has to start within the marriage though. It can't be the spouse just overstepping their boundaries, so to speak, because these are still your husband’s or your wife’s, parents or your husband and your wife's family. So, you have to start within the foundation of your marriage and figure out what that strategy looks like, cause it has to be a strategy because it is a, it can be a very delicate situation.

What is the strategy that you're going to take to start to begin to build those relationships? Because let's be clear, there might be some sister-in-laws or brother-in-law's or cousins or whoever it is that you're very close to who aren't receptive to your husband or your wife. They didn't believe that you all should have gotten married in the first place.

And they don't care whether you coming or going long as you go far, far away from them. Okay. So, I think that those conversations really have to start to take place within the context of, of the marriage and when there are those deeper-rooted issues. Now the societal stuff. That's always going to be, and it's always going to have some type of influence on our behaviors.

Beyond that, some of those deeper-rooted issues, you might want to find out what that is and how you can start to navigate through those so you can build a healthy relationship with your in-laws. Because like my husband said, they're not going anywhere. They were part of the deal when you got married and depending upon how close the relationship is with your spouse…look, they can be as involved in your marriage or as uninvolved in your marriage as you allow them to be.

Rich: And reality is most families have traditions and things they've done. And when you add a whole new family, a whole new family dynamic, you are adding new traditions. So, as an example, my family, everybody gets together for the holidays.

That is something that has gone on since. As long as I can remember. And for us, you know, we're not back home. We've moved away and you know, enjoy our lives. And sometimes we're there for holidays, sometimes we're not. And that was kind of some conversations we had to have. Because there was a pull from my family, like you should be home.

Then there was a pull from myself of like, I don't really want to go all the way back that far.

We've got our own traditions we're trying to create. We've got our own, you know, dynamics that we're trying to create ourselves as a new couple, as a new family. So, you have to understand that when you're talking about in-laws, there are so many different.

Facets of it, and we're talking about relationships, so it's just like any other relationship. If you're not communicating, if you're not putting the time in, then you can't expect success.

Nik: And that is it y'all, thanks so much for tuning in to this week's episode. We want you to have a truly happy marriage. We want you to continue to thrive in your marriages and indulge in your spouses on a regular basis. If you haven't already, make sure that you subscribe to the Naked Proverbs on whatever podcasting platform you listen to your podcasts on. Give us a five-star rating on iTunes because it really does help us out a lot.

Leave your comments and feel free to share this podcast with anyone who you feel might benefit from listening. Talk to y'all next week. Bye.